Keaton Fuller is gay. He attends Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, Iowa, and has done so as an openly gay student. He is believed to be the first openly gay student at any Catholic high school to attend school dances with a same-sex partner. And the school has had no problem with that.
That would be a good story, no?
The Eychaner Foundation, founded by Iowa businessman and gay rights activist Rich Eychaner, has awarded Keaton Fuller the Matthew Shepard Scholarship. The foundation, which named its scholarship after Shepard, who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998 because he was gay, has awarded more than 130 Matthew Shepard scholarships to graduating high school seniors who are LGBT since 2000.
That would be a good story, too.
Overruling Prince of Peace Catholic School officials, Bishop Martin Amos has announced that he will not let the Eychaner Foundation, a group that promotes equal rights for gays and lesbians, present that scholarship to Keaton Fuller at an upcoming awards ceremony because the group’s support for gay rights conflicts with church doctrine.
Amos’ announcement comes after a school official promised to let a representative of the foundation present the award to Fuller.
Keaton Fuller says he’s never felt so “invalidated and unaccepted” as he did when he heard that news last week; and he attends a Catholic school. He said he and his family have asked the school to reverse the decision. “This whole ordeal has been incredibly hurtful, and I am even sadder that this will be one of my last experiences to remember my high school years by,” Fuller said.
The bishop’s decision also shocked school officials, who encouraged Fuller to apply for the award, and even wrote letters on his behalf.
Now, Keaton Fuller will get the scholarship, so that’s good news. But he will not be presented with it during the awards ceremony; his award will be reduced to a simple announcement during the proceedings.
|Bigot, er, Bishop Amos|
Bishop Amos says, “We cannot allow any one or any organization which promotes a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church to present at a diocesan institution.”
Funny, they have a policy on that, but nothing about child rapists.
School Board President Edward O’Neill is disappointed by the bishop’s decision. He said Fuller is a talented student who was accepted by his peers after coming out years ago, and had even taken his boyfriend to prom over the weekend and other school dances without controversy.
Edward O’Neill: “We preach tolerance and acceptance but then we turn around and we don’t practice what we preach. If the bishop says we’re not going to do it, I can voice my objection to it, but there’s not a whole lot I can do.”
Maybe you can get the Bishop to listen while you preach tolerance and acceptance because it appears he has no idea what that even means.
Now, all that’s left is for Keaton Fuller to take that scholarship and run with it. Maybe, one day, with his help and his talents, he’ll be able to change the mind of the Catholic Church.
I, for one, will not be holding my breath.